2 Sisters has closed its Coupar Angus poultry processing plant following four workers testing positive for COVID-19.
There has been a cluster of cases in the Perth and Kinross area and the company was informed of this by local NHS at the weekend. The poultry plant is the predominant employer in the area.
A source said the company suspected all the positive cases at the plant were community transmissions, rather than the source being the factory. “All management there are really upset and dismayed this has happened, from a likely source outside the factory.” The site employs around 1000 people.
Senior management decided just before midnight on 16 August to close the plant in order to act decisively. A source said “The business thinks this is the responsible thing to do – we are the only business in the UK to take this level of action. We note, for example, there have also been four cases at a McVities biscuit factory in Glasgow over the weekend, but it still operates; also many hundreds have been infected at food factories in England in the past two weeks, and they also still operate. Our approach comes at a considerable inconvenience and cost to us, but it underlines we put our people first.”
2 Sisters has had a number of measures in place since late March at its processing plants, including temperature checks on arrival; perspex screening and face visors for all colleagues; staggered staff breaks and an increased smoking area, as well as new shift patterns to reduce congestion and new entrance and exit routes; hand washing closely monitored and all hard surfaces, such as doors, handles and turn styles, are regularly disinfected.
A spokesman for the site at Coupar Angus said: “Following the confirmation on 16 August of four positive Covid-19 cases at our site in Coupar Angus, we have decided to temporarily suspend operations and pause production on 17 August, which we believe is the responsible action to take. Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of all colleagues, and we will be reviewing the situation closely in partnership with the relevant regional and national Scottish COVID-19 taskforces before we restart production. The facility had previously operated for six months without a single positive COVID-19 case recorded.”